Chefs tell us where’s the beef
When it comes to burgers and eating out in general, we figure the chefs know a thing or two. When they let someone else do the cooking and that someone else isn’t at home, we guess they know what they like. Going out for burgers is no different; we asked around and found out some of our local chefs’ favorite burgers.
James Patterson, Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro
“My favorite burger hails from Scrambled on Spring Garden in Greensboro. It’s called Burgatory —Angus beef, onion jam, smoked Gouda-pimento cheese, lettuce, bacon, fried pickle, hollandaise, corn aioli on a brioche bun—This is the burger that I secretly desire, almost daily. I ask for it to be medium-rare, egg over-easy and crispy bacon! I know I shouldn’t be picky, I’m not cooking it, and no matter how it comes… it will be better than anything you’ve had out and about. Get there early and eat this for breakfast, you will not be disappointed!”
Jay Pierce, Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro, Winston-Salem
“Beef Burger in Greensboro. It’s well seasoned, well executed and just fantastic and affordable. It can’t be beat.”
John Wilson, Sophie’s Cork & Ale, Lexington
Side note: Chef John’s burgers are already a sight to behold. He has a burger feature every week, so be sure to look them up. “Westegg Hangover at Cin Cin [in Winston-Salem] is my favorite,” he said. “I love all their craft burgers, but I’m a sucker for waffle burgers and candied bacon.”
Freddy Lee, Bernardin’s at the Zevely House, Winston-Salem
The self-professed junk food lover said he gets his favorite burgers at two places, Small Batch [in Winston-Salem and High Point] and Cin Cin. “I love the burger with pork belly (the Smoke Batch) at Small Batch. I do love some fat on my burger.”
At Cin Cin, “I love the bison burger.”
Travis Myers, Willow’s Bistro, Winston-Salem
“I love the Prince Albert at Sir Winston Wine Loft & Restaurant.” This burger has it all; it’s double-stacked with blueberry barbecue sauce, caramelized onion, balsamic port mushrooms, country ham and white cheddar cheese.
Peyton Smith, Mission Pizza Napoletana, Winston-Salem
“Burger Supreme has a pop-up at MPN. The burger is a flat-topped, smashed-burger that caramelizes into a great crust.”
Curtis Hackaday, 1703 Restaurant & Catering, Winston-Salem
Closely aligned with Smith, Hackaday said, “Right now I’ve been digging Burger Supreme (he gets a double). It helps that they do the Coffee Park on Thursdays, so they are real close to me. I usually plan on getting one every Thursday if time allows. Otherwise, I like Burger Spot and Hops Burger in Greensboro. I’m excited about the Hops Burger opening down the street from 1703.” (Plans are still underway for the Hops location to be open at the former Carmine’s in the West End in July.)
We couldn’t finish this article without asking Greensboro burger-blogger and Mr. Hamburger Square himself, Randy Barnes, what his favorites are. For him, it’s hard to pick just one because price and style matter. Sometimes we want an old-school greasy burger, and sometimes a carefully crafted burger is the only way to go.
“White & Wood on Elm Street is insanely good at $18, but it’s $12 on Mondays. It’s ground filet mignon and ribeye.” The burger is topped with Gruyere, bacon, shallot aioli and drunken barbecue sauce and served with tots topped with Parmesan and scallions.
“Jay Pierce’s version of the Big Mac, The Chef’s Double is worth the 25-mile trip to Mozelle’s at $14 with real fries,” Barnes added. “The best bargain for me is Jack’s Corner Bar near UNCG, [which costs] about $6 with French fries and a drink. Tucker’s Grill in Horneytown is a personal favorite. They serve lunch only Tuesday through Saturday.”
Hamburger Square is an actual area of downtown Greensboro. The area of Elm, Davie and McGee Streets near the railroad tracks received its name because there were once hamburger and hot dog restaurants in the buildings at all four corners, thus the area was nicknamed Hamburger Square.
“These restaurants, notably the California Sandwich Shop in what’s now Natty Greene’s, and Jim’s Lunch, now the brewpub across the street, were somewhat segregated, in that Gentile society didn’t go near the place,” Barnes said. “Cigar companies were there in the neighborhood, and the upstairs of many including Natty’s were hotels serving the train traffic for the station two blocks away.”
“Hookers, cigars, beer and nickel hamburgers were the draw. Add some shoe shines and pool halls, and there goes the neighborhood,” he joked. “The Square where the Jefferson building, now Lincoln Financial, is, was the high-society area and the Southside intersection was called Hamburger Square as a sort of derogatory meaning. My grandfather, born 1912, would visit Hamburger Square for nickel hamburgers back in the Depression when he had the money.”
A 50th Anniversary Project of Greensboro Beautiful is underway to revitalize the area known as Hamburger Square.
If you’re interested in following Randy on his hamburgering, you can follow his Instagram, @hamburgersquare. The photo on his Instagram is a colorized version of an original photo from the Greensboro Historical Museum. You can visit www.hamburgersquare.com for history, photos and recordings from people who visited there.
So, who’s hungry for a burger now?
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.